(1181) Motacilla citreola citreola.
The Yellow-headed Wagtail.
Motacilla citreola, Pall., Reise Russ. Reich., iii, p. 696 (1776) (Siberia); Blanf. & Oates, ii, p. 298.
Vernacular names. Pani-ka-pilkya (Hind.).
Description. - Summer. Whole head and lower plumage bright yellow, the flanks washed with green; upper plumage ashy-grey more or less tinged with olive, especially the rump and upper tail-coverts ; hind-neck sometimes blackish but the black never extends on to the back ; tail black very narrowly edged with white, the two outer pairs white except for a broad patch of brown down the outer web; wings dark brown, the coverts and inner secondaries very broadly edged with white; the outer secondaries and primaries very narrowly edged with the same ; axillaries and under wing-coverts greenish-grey.
Female in Summer is duller than the male; the back is less pure grey, more brownish, and there is less pure bright yellow on the forehead and sides of the head; it also wants the black collar.
Colours of soft parts. Iris dark brown; bill and feet black.
Measurements. Wing 82 to 90 mm.; tail 74 to 79 mm.; tarsus 25 to 27 mm.; culmen 13 to 14 mm.
In Winter both sexes have the crown grey like the back but rather greener; the forehead, a broad supercilium and the sides of the head are yellow; lores and a line through the eye dusky; ear-coverts mottled with dusky; the breast is more or less mottled with dusky owing to the black bases showing through. The female is generally duller than the male with less yellow on the sides of the head.
The Young bird is ashy-brown above, the forehead tinged with green; a faint supercilium, sides of head and ear-coverts dull white; a line under the eye and another from the gape blackish-brown ; lower plumage fulvous-white, with a row of brown mottlings down each side of the neck and across the breast.
The adult plumage is assumed very irregularly and many birds of both sexes, especially the females, breed before they have acquired the fully adult colouring.
Distribution. Breeds in Eastern Russia to Turkestan, Amur and South-East Mongolia. In Winter occurs over practically the whole of India as far South as Travancore and Madras. To the East it is found as far as Chittagong, Manipur and Eastern Assam.
Nidification. The Yellow-headed Wagtail breeds in Northern Russia in June but in Siberia from the middle of May to the middle of July. The nest is a neat cup of grass, roots and some¬times a few leaves, scraps of moss etc., very compactly put together and well lined with reindeer hair, goats' hair, wool and sometimes a few feathers. The nests are placed on the ground in swampy meadow-land, or in wet open spaces among willows and birches. Generally they are well concealed and are always built well in among the roots of the grass or bush which protects them. The eggs number four to six, rarely seven, and in colour are pale replicas of those of the Indian Blue-headed Wagtail but are sometimes rather more distinctly speckled or spotted, though usually very uniform in colour. Eighty-two eggs (64 Jourdain) average 19.2 x 14.2 mm,: maxima 21.3 x 15.3 mm.; minima 18.0 x 14.0 and 19.8 x 13.8 mm.
Habits. Very similar to those of the flava group. It is a very common bird in Winter over the greater part of Northern India wherever there are marches, moist cultivation or open green fields. Ticehurst found that some Sind birds had been feeding on small snails.